Punjabis are a very distinct community, wherever they may be settled, and Ahmedabad’s Punjabis are no exception. We asked a cross section of the city’s Punjabi population what they thought of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) winning a thumping majority in the Punjab elections today. They say they weren’t surprised by the results.
Varun Maira settled in Ahmedabad after a long career as an IAS officer in the Gujarat cadre. He says he’s in touch with IAS colleagues in Punjab, and they told him that the defeat of Congress was a foregone conclusion. “The people of Punjab are fed up with the way the state has declined on every parameter. Women are distraught because their husbands, their sons, are jobless. The economy is in shambles, there is no proper governance. Punjabis are a proud race and the circumstance the State finds itself in today is humiliating,” he says.
Varun says Punjab is looking for change and AAP was in the right place at the right time. “Congress Chief Minister Amrinder Singh never came to office. He left governance to his bureaucrats. As a result, the Congress lost touch with reality. They tried replacing Amrinder with Channi and Siddhu, but by then it was too late. As for the Akali Dal, people still haven’t forgiven the party for the spread of the drug habit during their reign. AAP won by default,” he says.
Former MNC executive S Vaishisht, 60, has many relatives in Punjab and keenly follows its politics. He says the BJP has never been able to make any headway in the State because its Hindutva ideology has no takers in Punjab, where 60% of the population is Sikh. “Without an alliance with the Akalis, the BJP didn’t have a foot to stand on. They didn’t try too hard in Punjab,” he says.
Vashist explains the Congress debacle saying: “Punjabis were really put off by the tactless way Rahul Gandhi handled Amrinder. Despite everything, he was still a member of the royal house of Patiala and people took offense at the way he was sacked. Siddhu made it worse and the people were angry with him as well. The Congress has traditionally had the support of Punjab’s Sikh Dalits and Hindu Bhrahmins, but it has now lost these votes to AAP.”
Entrepreneur Praveen Sharma,50, has lived in Gujarat all his life and has few links to Punjab. He is unabashedly pro-BJP and pro-Hindutva. “I’m glad Congress has lost badly in Punjab,” he says. “AAP doesn’t have a clear ideology like the BJP does. They seem to be indifferent to ideology and can sway in any direction,” he says.
True. Hope AAP can give the lift to every part in Punjab and give them their prosperity and pride back.